The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's reputation and came to Jerusalem to put his reputation to the test, asking all the tough questions. She made a showy entrance - an impressive retinue of attendants and camels loaded with perfume and much gold and precious stones. She emptied her heart to Solomon, talking over everything she cared about.
And Solomon answered everything she put to him - nothing stumped him.
When the queen of Sheba experienced for herself Solomon's wisdom and saw with her own eyes the palace he had built,
the meals that were served, the impressive array of court officials, the sharply dressed waiters, the cupbearers, and then the elaborate worship extravagant with Whole-Burnt-Offerings at The Temple of God, it all took her breath away.
She said to the king, "It's all true! Your reputation for accomplishment and wisdom that reached all the way to my country is confirmed.
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself; they didn't exaggerate! Such wisdom and elegance - far more than I could ever have imagined.
Lucky the men and women who work for you, getting to be around you every day and hear your wise words firsthand!
And blessed be your God who has taken such a liking to you, making you king. Clearly, God's love for Israel is behind this, making you king to keep a just order and nurture a God-pleasing people."
She then gave the king four and a half tons of gold and sack after sack of spices and precious stones. There hasn't been a cargo of spices like the shipload the queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon.
The ships of Hiram also imported gold from Ophir along with fragrant sandalwood and expensive gems.
The king used the sandalwood for fine cabinetry in The Temple of God and the royal palace, and for making harps and dulcimers for the musicians. Nothing like that shipment of sandalwood has been seen since.
King Solomon, for his part, gave the queen of Sheba all her heart's desire - everything she asked for. She took away more than she brought. Satisfied, she returned home with her train of servants.
Solomon received twenty-five tons of gold annually.
This was above and beyond the taxes and profit on trade with merchants and traders. All kings of Arabia and various and assorted governors also brought silver and gold to Solomon.
King Solomon crafted 200 body-length shields of hammered gold - about fifteen pounds of gold to each shield
- and about 300 small shields about half that size. He stored the shields in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.
The king made a massive throne of ivory with a veneer of gold.
The throne had six steps leading up to it with an attached footstool of gold. The armrests on each side were flanked by lions.
Lions, twelve of them, were placed at either end of the six steps. There was no throne like it in any other kingdom.
King Solomon's chalices and tankards were made of gold, and all the dinnerware and serving utensils in the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver; silver was considered common and cheap in the time of Solomon.
The king's ships, manned by Hiram's sailors, made a round trip to Tarshish every three years, returning with a cargo of gold, silver, and ivory, apes and peacocks.
King Solomon was richer and wiser than all the kings of the earth - he surpassed them all.
Kings came from all over the world to be with Solomon and get in on the wisdom God had given him.
Everyone who came brought gifts - artifacts of gold and silver, fashionable robes and gowns, the latest in weapons, exotic spices, horses, and mules - parades of visitors, year after year.
Solomon collected horses and chariots. He had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots, and 12,000 horsemen in barracks in the chariot-cities and in Jerusalem.
He ruled over all the kings from the River Euphrates in the east, throughout the Philistine country, and as far west as the border of Egypt.
The king made silver as common as rocks and cedar as common as the fig trees in the lowland hills.
He carried on a brisk horse-trading business with Egypt and other places.
The rest of Solomon's life and rule, from start to finish, one can read in the records of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah of Shiloh, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat.
Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years.
Solomon died and was buried in the City of David his father. His son Rehoboam was the next king.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)